Pictures As Proof: Carrie Underwood & “Before He Cheats”

There are a lot of great things about “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood (written by Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins).

But today I want to focus on one.  The writers never call the cheating boyfriend a name.  They never call him a jerk, a loser, etc.  Instead, they use the lyrics to paint a picture of this guy that leaves the listener thinking, “Man, what a loser!”

If Carrie just called the guy a jerk, I might believe her.  Or I might just think she’s a bitter, psycho ex-girlfriend.  But the pictures are the proof.  The writers prove to us that this guy is a jerk- we’ve seen him in action (up behind the girl showing her how to shoot a combo, buying her drinks, and dabbing on $3 worth of that bathroom Polo, etc).  Therefore, when Carrie takes it out on his truck, you at least agree that he was due some payback.

The lesson for me is: If you want the listener to think someone is a jerk, a hero, a great lover, whatever- don’t just tell the listener so.  Use pictures as proof.

Strong imagery like we find in “Before He Cheats” can really make a song stand out. If you want to build YOUR imagery skill so that YOUR songs stand out, I have a great opportunity for you. In Songwriting Pro’s upcoming live online workshop, I’ll reveal several techniques that I and other pro songwriters use to create killer imagery.


God Bless,


Anything you’d like to add or ask?  Leave a comment!  Also, are there any topics  you’d like to see addressed in a future MvR post?  Thanks!

Brent is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ray Stevens, and more.  He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

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